Ferrari: Even minor F1 cost cap breach worth 0.5s per lap

Ferrari says the FIA needs to take Formula 1 cost cap breaches seriously because even a minor overspend could be worth as much as 0.5 seconds per lap.

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F1 teams are bracing themselves for the FIA’s announcement on Wednesday on which teams were under last year’s cost cap limit and which went over.

There was rampant speculation over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend that one team had had a minor procedural overspend, while another was well over the limits.

Aston Martin and Red Bull faced suggestions that they were the squads that could have broken the rules, but both teams moved to play down such talk – as they insisted the FIA had not informed them of any problems.

Rival teams are hugely interested in the outcome of the FIA’s audits, and especially how seriously the governing body will take any outfit that has gone over the limit.

While a 5% overspend of the circa $145 million limit is officially classified as a ‘minor’ breach, Ferrari is clear that the gains from being able to spend a few million more are huge.

Team principal Mattia Binotto admitted that it was not ideal that the 2021 championship battle was still being debated right now, but he said the significance of overspends should not be brushed under the carpet.

“It’s definitely a shame that we are talking about it in October of the following season, because at this point, apart from implications on last year’s championship, there are also implications for the current one,” he told Sky Italia.

“Let’s wait until Wednesday before making a judgement but, whatever amount we are talking about, it’s important to understand that even if it is four million, which falls into the category of what is considered a minor breach, four million is not minor.

“For us, four million represents the development parts for an entire season. Four million means 70 people in a technical department who can come up with and produce solutions that could be worth up to half a second a lap.

“So even if we are looking at something considered a minor breach it’s not peanuts.”

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

He added: “We are talking of half a second and that advantage is carried forward into subsequent seasons, because while it began in 2021, it still gives a competitive advantage in 2022 and 2023, so this is clearly an important matter.

“It puts the credibility in general at stake. I hope that everyone has dealt with this exercise correctly, because otherwise it will be a very big problem to manage.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff echoed Ferrari’s views on the significance of the upgrades, as he reckoned any extra spending had a direct impact in allowing teams to bring much more performance.

He said detailed analysis his squad had done about the car development programmes of rival teams suggested that one unnamed squad had been bringing much more than their rivals.

“Is it a so-called minor breach, because I think the word is probably not correct?” he said.

“If you're spending five million more, and you're still in the minor breach, it still has a big impact on the championship.

“To give you an idea, we obviously monitor closely which parts are being brought to the track from the top teams every single race – for the 2021 season and the 2022 season.

“We can see that there are two top teams that are just about the same and there is another team that spends more.

“We know exactly that we're spending: three and a half million a year in parts that we bring to the car. So then you can see what difference it makes to spend another $500,000. It would be a difference.

“We haven't produced lightweight parts for the car in order to bring us down from a double digit overweight because we simply haven't got the money. So we need to do it for next year's car.

“We can't homologate a lightweight chassis and bring it in, because it's two million more that we will be over the cap. So you can see every spend more has a performance advantage.”

On Wednesday the FIA will issue teams that were under the 2021 cap with their compliance certificates to confirm that they were in line with the regulations.

Any squad that is deemed to be over will then likely face a separate cost cap hearing to decide what sanctions they should face.

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